This is the story of a book that I never would have chosen for myself. A story that begins in my local bookstore, an overstock and remainder shop where you can get new books at a fantastic price. The only problem is that your options are a bit limited, but if you’re up for trying something new, this is a great place to be. The shop owner and I were discussing our reading preferences.
Me: “Mysteries are my favorites, but it’s been a long time since I actually chose a book from the mystery section. I really like the unconventional mysteries I find in the mainstream fiction section, especially those by foreign authors.”
Her: “Like who?”
Me: “Like Tana French.”
Her: “I haven’t heard of her. Where’s she from?”
Me: “She’s Irish.”
Her eyes opened wide and she said, “Oh! I have the perfect author for you. He’s Irish and he writes the best mysteries!”
I was sold. I went home with a copy of “Behold a Pale Horse” by Peter Tremayne knowing only the genre and the author’s country of origin. The first chance I got I opened the book and dove right in. Well. Surprise # 1 was that the book is #22 of a series. Surprise # 2 was that the series takes place in ancient Ireland. This particular novel follows Sister Fidelma, the mystery solving lawyer/religieuse/princess in Northern Italy in the year 664 AD.
It took me much longer than usual to get through this book. I had to get over #1, my prejudices about the book, #2, the history lesson I was gaining from reading the book, and #3, several small hissy fits that I threw upon having to read something outside of my comfort zone. But after I readjusted my attitude and approached the book as an adventure, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the story. I don’t have the urge to conquer the entire series, but I would spend some more time with Fidelma. Just not any time too soon. My personal rating is a 4, but if an accurate historical piece rich in learning opportunities and mystery is your thing, I’d say this might be a five.